Kenia sat in full lotus pose for the first time this morning. She twisted her body to the left, elongated her spine, allowed her gaze to follow her shoulder. I watched her breathe (really breathe), a smile of satisfaction on her pretty face. She repeated it on the other side. The new morning light beaming in from outside shone all over her and her bright pink tank top.
I practice yoga all the time: while washing dishes, combing hair, trying to calmly fight off a fight. And, I practice physical yoga when I can, or rather when time and space permits. Before they can even remember, my daughters have seen me doing it in all types of places… the attic of our RV (in motion) being the most challenging of all. I have never pushed it on them. They are free to join me or not. Most of the time it is ‘not’. And then, every once in a while I am given a tiny gift in the form of a hand touching mine as I meditate or smooth flesh rubbing up against me on my mat as I go from upward to downward dog.
This morning I wasn’t practicing. This morning, my 11 year old daughter who has always been the less flexible sister (see Havana (the more flexible sister) in her ‘show off whenever and wherever’ move right here!)… who has never been able to touch her toes with straight engaged legs or a relaxed expression (hint: the relaxed expression comes first!)…
the daughter who all this time seemed to cringe in pain with every twist, curve or bend… finally emptied her mind of her limits…
this is the BREAKING NEWS that I wish to share!
She showed herself love and kindness, patience… threw away all the I will never be able tos … I can’ts… I don’t know hows… I will always bes... and became limitless in an instant of time… She jumped one step beyond what she thought she could see, who she thought she was and would always be… and she actually became the lotus flower.
Some seeds blossom. Some don’t. This is what my favorite zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, says. It is all up to us. The responsibility is all ours. This is a very important lesson in our house.
I remember seeing a photograph of an extra large woman several months ago. She was twisted like a pretzel in some easy looking yoga pose… she was eloquence, grace, radiance. All my excuses of having legs that are too short or not slender enough seemed ridiculous. All my ideas of a perfect yoga type body gone.
I have never sat in full lotus pose. Perhaps I never will. I have accepted a half way version as my form of perfection. I don’t dwell on it any longer. I don’t judge my yoga practice on the sophistication of the positions I can do, the length of time I can maintain them. I have become Ango, comfortable in my own skin, my own peaceful dwelling. But, I know that ultimately it is not my short, sometimes too stiff legs getting in my way. It isn’t my aching back or lack of balance. It is my mind…
Our number one, super doper, ‘extra large’ limit!
Water the limit and the limit shall grow. Stretch the mind and the mind will take you to unimaginable places…
because when we decide to use our total capacity, our body and our entire essence follows no matter what our size, age or once believed level of skill.
Work the ground – the one you are standing on at this very moment – as my second favorite zen master, Karen Maezen Miller, says… prepare it and nurture it, eliminate the weeds and all the other predators and see your seeds blossom into your very own lotus flower.
This is true for yoga. And, this my dear friends is true for life.
love and more love,